The definition of “letting it go” is often taken incorrectly—as in not caring. Really, it is about grace even after experiencing turmoil.
Grace has many definitions and is often compared to faith and forgiveness. It is also associated with elegance and a refined kind of movement. Consider the idiom: to be graced with one’s presence. True grace encompasses all of these associations to some degree—and the grace of letting go is more about freeing yourself from the firm grasp of what you’re holding onto, as well as the harm that it can cause you over time.
What Letting Go Isn’t
Letting go isn’t about anyone else but yourself and your needs, and it can allow for the resulting peace to extend to making for a more comfortable day-to-day environment—especially if you run into reminders of what hurts.
In an article written for Berkeley Well-Being Institute, Dr. Tchiki Davis says that “We humans really like to cling to things, even things that we know are bad for us. One reason is likely because the more we feel like we know ourselves, the more we like ourselves.” Dr. Davis indicates that the key to freeing ourselves is loosening our grip on resentment, fear, and harmful patterns and behaviors that don’t serve us. Then, we create room for ourselves to practice everyday gratitude and find those seemingly elusive silver linings.
Letting go isn’t about “being the bigger person.” You don’t need a tabula rasa (blank slate) to begin again or to see the freshness of what is available to you now to move forward with your life. It’s not about forgiveness when someone’s not taking accountability for wronging you—you don’t just forget something didn’t happen. It doesn’t reduce the significance of anything that happened to you. However, it is about what you give yourself through grace.
What Letting Go Is
What does it mean to let go? Letting go is about freeing yourself for better experiences and putting yourself first. You allow grace. You make the most of life.
What would happen if you practiced more self-compassion? What would happen if you let yourself tell your story, even if it’s only in a journal? To get out of something, we have to go through it, but we often get stuck in dwelling rather than simply loosening our grip. Letting go honors your emotions, truths, and story with a gentle embrace, not a clenching fist.
So many people miss out on life and beautiful little moments because they are so caught up in reliving old memories and stirring up their inner storms. You give yourself room to be yourself again, rather than identifying with the storm.
Life Is Short: Embracing Stoicism and Other Philosophies to Heal
In his essay “On the Shortness of Life,” Seneca writes “…nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But if death threatens these same people, you will see them praying to their doctors… But if each of us could have the tally of his future years set before him, as we can of our past years, how alarmed would those who only saw a few years ahead, and how carefully would they use them!”
In the scope of everything, this is fleeting; this too shall pass.
In “Enchiridion,” Marcus Aurelius educates us that we only have control over our own responses and faculties. In chapter 11, Aurelius states that he never thinks “I have lost something,” only “I have returned it.”
So, return what is not yours to bear, and release with grace that which does not serve you.